Phoenix (for Patricia)

One of the writing prompts I saw suggested writing about a defining moment in your life. All right then, I will do just that.

May, 2002. I had just celebrated the worst birthday of my life only days before, signing final papers that were the end of a dream. Everything I knew and believed about my life was gone and I did not know how I was going to go on. I mean, I’d think it, say it, even, “I can’t go on….” and then, of course, do just that. Because that’s what you do.

Friends of mine had decided I needed some special care and treatment and had, as they put it, passed the hat; I had opened a special delivery envelope to find plane tickets and hotel reservations and all kinds of things that were going to send me on the first flight of my life, to the city I had so wanted to see: New York. Come for the concert, they said. Let us love you and take care of you for a few days.  Such a wonderful gift I could hardly believe it….”I can’t do this!” I said to my mom, and she said, “Of course you can. Of COURSE you can.”

And so I did.

They kept me busy (too busy to think…and we didn’t talk about all that had just happened to me…I didn’t want to!) and I smiled more than I would have thought possible. I even laughed a time or two. I had some of the most amazing adventures in that magical city. But let’s not forget that this was only a few months after 9/11….

I wanted to see Ground Zero. I couldn’t really say why I wanted to, but I did. I needed to.

When we stood there, as near as we could be to all that was left, I felt my grief open its gaping maw all over again, leaving me hollowed out, scalded and blinded. And then a new thought pushed right through it all, insisting I face it: “This is my life. This is what’s left.”

Someone else made a decision to blast everything apart. I didn’t see it coming, and wreckage is all that remains of my dream.

I wanted to lie down in that dark bloody soil and die.

But I couldn’t. A small child waited for me at home. And I needed to show the destroyer that I wasn’t so easily broken. Somehow. I had to survive this, somehow, even though at the time I didn’t see how I ever would.When we got back to our hotel, I wrote this. One take, never changing a single word.

from the ashes
bitter tears in her eyes,
bitter taste in her mouth.

no longer curled
around her pain,
embracing/releasing it
in a single motion.

her hands
to the angry sky
in supplication–
there are no answers here,
at least
not now.

her spine,
throws back her hair.
settles the tatters 
of her clothing, and
dashes away the final tears,

smoldering wreckage, and
looks beyond,
seeking cooling waters and
fragile new growth.

into healing.
does not 
look back.

I have never been the same.Never will be.

I miss who I used to be, even though I like who I am now.


4 thoughts on “Phoenix (for Patricia)

  1. Beautifully written…I’m in the Maw of disaster, waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel that is NOT a train!!!! Wish I had some experience similar to lift me up, maybe someday!

  2. I wish I had been paying attention, so I could have contributed and maybe even gone along. I knew about it if you’re talking about RM, but my employment world had gone crazy, one of my defining moments after decades. I don’t know that we knew each other much then, but I still would have wanted to help.

    1. Dearest Jack, I never even knew who all contributed, although Jay said “I put in my dollar!” so you know what? I had pretty much assumed you had been one of the contributors. 🙂 And you have helped me immeasurably since we have come to know each other. Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to your place in my life.

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